Like his former Ohio State teammate Denzel Ward, Billy Price will be staying in his home state.
Price, however, will be going in the other direction along I-71, as the former Ohio State offensive lineman and 2017 Rimington Trophy winner was selected by the Cincinnati Bengals with the No. 21 overall pick in the 2018 NFL draft on Thursday night.
Price is the first Buckeye drafted by the Bengals since they selected Reid Fragel in the seventh round (No. 240 overall) in 2013.
Callin Cincinnati home!! Cant wait to get started! #WhoDey— Billy Price (@b_price54) April 27, 2018
Ward and Price are the first pair of Buckeyes to be selected by the Browns and Bengals in the same NFL draft since the Browns drafted Ohio State punter Tom Skladany and the Bengals drafted Ohio State running back Pete Johnson in the second round of the 1977 NFL draft.
"This is exactly what I wanted in this draft," Price said in his teleconference with Bengals reporters, per Paul Dehner Jr. of the Cincinnati Enquirer. "It's unreal right now."
Price on getting the call: "I didn't think the moment was real. I looked at my agent and said, 'Holy shit, it's Cincinnati.'" #Bengals— Paul Dehner Jr. (@pauldehnerjr) April 27, 2018
After starting all 55 games of his four playing seasons at Ohio State, breaking the school record for games started in the process, Price suffered an incomplete tear of his left pectoral muscle while bench pressing at the combine, sidelining him for the remainder of the pre-draft process and putting his draft stock in question.
That said, Price's doctor sent a letter to teams on Wednesday informing them that Price is on track to make a full recovery in time for NFL training camps, and that was all the assurance the Bengals needed to make Price their top choice in this year's draft.
“I didn't think the moment was real ... I looked at my agent and said, ‘Holy shit, it's Cincinnati.’”– Billy Price on getting the phone call from the Bengals
Price, who also earned unanimous All-American honors last season as college football's best center, is the second Ohio State offensive lineman in three years to be selected in the first round of the NFL draft, joining Taylor Decker (No. 16 overall by the Detroit Lions in 2016).
He is the the first Ohio State center to be selected in the first round of the draft since the New York Jets selected Nick Mangold with the No. 29 overall pick in 2006. Price is the third overall Ohio State center to be drafted in a five-year span, joining Pat Elflein (third round, No. 70 overall, Minnesota Vikings in 2017) and Corey Linsley (fifth round, No. 161 overall, Green Bay Packers in 2014).
Price projects to be an immediate starter at center for the Bengals, whose starting center from last season – Russell Bodine – left for the Buffalo Bills in free agency.